From Dust Bowl
To Rust Bowl

By Judith Moriarty

"I ain't got no home, I'm just a-roaming' 'round,
Just a wandrin' worker, I go from town to town.
And the police make it hard wherever I may go
And I ain't got no home in this world anymore." Woody Guthrie

Once upon a time, in an America long ago, there were no Walmarts, no McDonalds, no factory farms, no corporate farms, and food wasn't genetically altered with tomatoes crossed with fish, or whatever foolishness mad scientists do. Towns grew up around the mills, auto plants and foundries. There were real grandmas then with blue hair, pearls, and flowered aprons; baking up hams, cookies, and plates of steaming vegetables. Grandma wasn't into marathons or liposuction. Just taking care of her grandchildren.
In the milltown where I spent the first nine years of my life everyone had a garden. We had no TV, though some of the neighbors did. We read books instead. Monday's were wash day and the clothes lines danced in an array of sheets, work clothes, and curtains. Mothers were not forced into the work place, and we somehow all managed from the meager wages of the mill. No designer clothes, no videos, no exotic eateries or drugs.
Downtowns were filled on payday with neighbors at the drug store, five and ten, and the local Sears. With no concrete fortress malls, neighbors chatted on street corners, met at the local diner for coffee, with children played in the park, with their luxury of the week, an ice cream cone. The American dream. The American dream, if it be truly known, was never the thought of some exclusive mansion, yachts, exotic travels, or diamonds and furs.
No, it was small town living; fishing in the creek, a job at the mill or plant, flower gardens, screen doors slamming, picnics on weekends or a church dinner. The men worked hard in the hot mills with molten steel being poured, in the mines, or on the assembly line down at the auto plant. The owners lived far off in an unknown world of luxury and ease. Work and small town living satisfied most.

Summer nights would have neighbors on porches, a bonfire built to roast hot dogs, as children scampered through the night catching fireflies, playing hide and seek, or listening to the latest talk of work or politics. The clink of milk bottles at dawn, the huckster man with his vegetable wagon, the bread man, the family doctor with his bag visiting a sick child, nothing fancy but somehow safe. Medicine was affordable with the pharmacist putting it on the tab until payday rolled around. The American dream was simply joying in community and wanting that college education for one's children.
And now in the 21st century we see the dismantling of America piece by piece. Really it's been decades in the making. Leaders were assassinated, men were sent off to an impossible war in Vietnam (on a lie), drugs poured into the nation destroying communities and families. Billions have been spent on something called a drug war that was never meant to be won. Downtowns and thus community was destroyed with the building of malls and mega stores.

The people were kept dutifully distracted over the years. In the poor neighborhoods; it was the gangs, drive-by shootings, and riots. Government housing became hives of people living behind barred doors and windows. It was no longer safe for fire flies in the night. Ever so insidiously the American dream has become a forever nightmare. The mills, foundries, machine shops, textile plants closed quietly one by one by one across the country.
The fields and woods where I played as a child were buried in asphalt for a mall, with the remainder of my childhood buried beneath tons of slag and ash from the mills. The owners of these places lived far away in removed enclaves of rarified air and park like compounds. What happened to the 'herd-masses-invisible ones' was none of their concern. The robber-barons of steel, oil, timber, and the railroads had their way politically in impoverishing the nation.

Armies of lobbyists saw to special interests being served with subsidies, tax exemptions, and loopholed regulations. Chemical plants, industry, the military, factory farms, plundering of forests, oil drilling, incineration, and mega dumps poisoned whole areas-killing untold thousands. Small town citizens; with little money and less power, were, and are no match, for insatiable huckster plunderers who have no allegiance or loyalty to any land or people. Industry has legions of lawyers and billions to fight any outrageous concern of citizens not wanting to be poisoned.
Across the land, small town America became echoing rusted mill towns. Downtown stores were boarded up, with some old mills turned into shopping Meccas or upscale novel housing. Mostly though, they stand as archaic reminders, of a once upon a life. Haunted, men-gray and weary are advised by the "experts" of government to "retrain". Only detached, sniffed, arrogance (hired), can proclaim such nonsense. Scarred steel workers in Pittsburgh were advised to go into computer technology, train as nurses aides, or as McWorkers! (80s-not on the news)
President Bush advised in his latest State of the Union address that the millions of unemployed should now train to be scientists or health workers. Oops, the computer jobs we were told to train for in the 70s and 80s are now gone to India. With all due respect, Mr.Bush has never had to work at a real job in his entire life. Any endeavor he did enter into, and failed at, was quickly rectified with the family fortunes. No shut-off notices, evictions, or hungry children in his life. Mr.Bush and his ilk, including Mr.Kerry, have never gone without that needed prescription, dental care, or doctor's visit because they didn't have the cash upfront!
The audacious, unmitigated, malignant gall to advise men in their late forties, fifties, and sixties, to go out and retrain. With what pray tell? These men don't have the money, nor the privilege of attending our nations best schools. There is no family legacy giving them a preferred placement in an Ivy League college, despite their lack of intelligence or grade performance. And while these miners, farmers, textile workers, and auto workers are all attending to college life, what of their families? Shall they live in the family clunker car or maybe in shanty Bushvilles set up on the mall in Washington?

Insanity! President Bush's new manufacturing czar, Anthony Raimondo, has laid off his own workers as he builds a $3 million dollar factory in CHINA. Since this wizard's appointment another 250,000 manufacturing jobs are gone overseas. Mr.Bush doing a photo opportunity in Ohio, did well to surround himself with a gaggle of Republican women entrepreneurs. We weren't made privy to the smarter Ohio citizens demonstrating out in the streets. TV never shows dissent against the President or war.
Be it New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, South Carolina,
Mississippi, Oklahoma, California, etc., people are not buying this flag waving, public relations buffoonery, of electioneering nor the blame game. Pass the buck...the continual mantra that we hear every four years. There's the usual whining, that it's not the current administration but the one past that's to blame for all our woes. Doesn't matter whose at fault we bear the brunt of the ineptness, greed and incompetence. The buck stops at our front doors. The fact is, elephant or jackass they are both to blame---check their voting records.

We no longer need worry over the robber barons influencing Washington. The robber barons are now firmly ensconced in public office. With a cabinet made up of oil interests, is it any wonder we don't have an energy policy? We do, but it's not for public consumption. Now everything can be hidden under "National Security"...all except the lives of citizens. Operation Iraqi Liberation (OIL), had to be changed to Operation Iraqi Freedom---least anyone suspect. Thousands of citizens lost their jobs and pensions, due to this newest (don't forget the S&L fleecing), corporate fraud, and we get Martha Stewart, with her drive by flower stall heist off the streets. Martha didn't steal anyone's job or pension--but she's an example to all, of Government's getting tough on corporate crime! Now maybe they can get busy investigating the billions unaccounted for at the Defense Department, or the Haliburton cash cow in Iraq and every other Agency in Foggy Bottom.

Billions gone missing all over Washington, billions in tax subsidies, billions for industry to relocate jobs abroad, billions in bailouts for the utilities, billions more for insurance,airliners, and pharmaceutical companies; and we're supposed to pay for all this on fixed incomes, jobs in prisons, casinos, or Walmarts? Would that Martha had been Neil Bush, of the 1 billion rip-off of the Silvardo Savings and Loan, she'd be doing business with Asia now, with strange men knocking on her hotel door offering favors. Asia apparently has a unique way of having you feel welcomed.
In January 2004 there were 2,428 mass layoffs by employers. The number of workers was 239,454. President Bush tells us that he's creating 2.3 million new high paying jobs. Now if he would only put out a posting on where these jobs are, the exodus could begin. I know they're not in New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, or anywhere in the South. Is he speaking of us all relocating to India-Guam-Taiwan-China-or Russia? Where are they?

It can't be farming. The green pastures and idyllic barnyard scenes of years past, have been replaced by windowless metal sheds, wire cages, gestation crates, and other confinement systems--known as factory farming. Animals are now fed drugs to fatten them faster and are genetically altered to grow faster or to produce more milk or eggs than they would naturally. These farms produce billions of pounds of manure a day, which ends up in lakes, rivers and drinking water. Little wonder that we are warned to not eat the fish, and that people have built up an immunity to antibiotics in their bodies; seeing that they get their fill in the foods they eat and drink.
"If there was a law, they was workin' with maybe we could take it, but it ain't the law. They're workin' away our spirits, tryin' to make us cringe and crawl, takin' away our decency." Tom Joad-Grapes of Wrath.

No, these millions of new jobs ain't gonna be in the mines, mills, foundries, fishing ports, auto plants, computers, nor back on the farm. Millions lost their farms in the 80s after the government urged them to load up on debt in the 70s and then cut off their markets while the bankers cut off the credit. When the tractors rolled in Washington, people in the cities couldn't care less because they didn't see how the turnover of family farms into corporate agriculture affected them. They do now. Too late.

The last 20 years has seen a consolidation of agribusiness. The Justice Department, covering the breasts of nude statues in Washington, antitrust division, is nowhere to be seen. In '94 Congress (Democrats and Republicans) passed the North American Free Trade Agreement that opened American markets to Canadian and Mexican Crops. Iowa has seen a $1 billion loss of farm income. In North Dakota, 2,511 wheat and cattle farmers have folded in the last two years with an additional 1,807 expected to quit this year.

Nope, we're not going back to the farm, which is what saved many during the Great Depression. In the South, said to be a bastion of Republicans, it's no better. Poultry processors have successfully gained a virtual monopoly on production by controlling the farmers who are now contracted to raise chickens and turkeys for them. The farmers make the capital investments and take all of the risks. It's called a "win win" proposition for the corporate hucksters.

With just over two million farms remaining in the country one can imagine the danger. Hogs. State and local officials (easily compromised) have done nothing to protect hapless people in their communities from large scale producers that claim the right to put thousands of hogs anywhere (not near the rich-golf courses-country clubs) they want. The spineless compromised Environmental Protection Agency, can fine the corporation AFTER the waste spills into the local water supply and AFTER the hogs are sold at a profit that makes the fine (like all corporate destroying businesses) little more than a business expense. With state regulators also compromised air pollution regulations are ignored.

Out in the West its water. Across the nation local utilities are being privatized--in many instances by foreign owners. Farmers in Colorado, Arkansas etc., no longer able to make a go of it are selling off their water rights. Bennett Raley, a Denver water lawyer, is now the Bush administration's point man for Western water issues. Out in the Arkansas River Valley farms are giving way to prisons, prisons and more prisons. In Crowley County the railroad stations, stores and car dealerships are all closed. The two new prisons there house 2,000 male inmates, half the county's population. What to do with a nation full of young men in need of employment? Lock'em up or send them off as cannon fodder for rich men's wars of global conquest.

Give them the mantra of freedom, liberation, democracy and ridding the world of terrorism. Meantime, billions are being made by the few in lucrative blow'em up then rebuild contracts, and oil deals. Need to get rid of nuclear waste? Simple, make the bombs and shredding weaponry from depleted uranium. Drop it all over Kosovo and Iraq. Land, waters, people poisoned for billions of years-no matter; call it "collateral damage". Human resources, herd, simpletons, masses, useless eaters, acceptable risks, towel heads, rag heads, dispossessed, downsized, et al; faceless and nameless. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld says we don't count them.
No we don't see them, and we don't number them. We don't see the anguish of mothers, fathers, children, wives and husbands of those returned unceremoniously in bags. We don't see the armless child, the little girl dead with shredded feet, nor the melted bodies. We don't see the maimed in military hospitals; minus arms, legs, or blinded. I think of the young armless veteran in Massachusetts, the parents of an only son in Vermont, the boy from northern New Hampshire who loved to fish with his grandfather, the young mothers dead in war. Women in war...what madness is this? Mothers and fathers, both at war leaving babies with grandparents. No, not the young of those who champion "bring'em on" but the young of farmers, auto plant workers, ghettos, and small rural towns. Dead for what?

Ridding the world of terrorism? How is this done? How do you fight the fog? How do you catch a moonbeam in your hand? I told Senator Kerry when he visited New Hampshire, that terror could also be applied to those without jobs, unable to feed their children, those without medical coverage, eviction notices, and shut-off notices. I went on to explain that fear and dread depended on one's perspective. He assured me that it was the al-Queda that we should fear. With several homes worth $20 million, and never suffering a job loss at age 50, the loss of his home with nowhere to turn, it was evident, as it is with most politicians, that he had no empathetic understanding or knowledge of the paralyzing fear this brings. Most especially in a nation with no safety-net and nobody to care.
Politicians today, are an mostly an ingathering of the well off, the rich, the soon to be rich, servicing the money boys. They come out of the woodwork every few years to mix with the unwashed masses promising, forever promising; better education (a joke), prescriptions, medical care, jobs, housing, etc. Ten years after they voted NAFTA which was supposed to secure jobs for Mexicans-Canadians and Americans they note the exodus of 11 million Mexicans looking for jobs and millions of unemployed Americans and Canadian companies now out sourcing. Now, they're going to look at the five volumes of NAFTA they never read before voting on. Please spare us the lies.

Not one politician has spoke to the newest final death knell to American jobs, that took place in Miami in November(FTAA). Not one has spoken to the tens of thousands of citizens marching (not covered on TV) to save our jobs, and how thousands of police with stun guns, shields, clubs, pepper spray and plastic bullets assaulted them. The elderly "terrorized" in the land supposedly fighting world "terrorism". The media part and parcel of this theater of the bizarre, instead had the specter of Michael Jackson round the clock. News, journalists, investigative reporting, is now as echoing as the untold stories across the land of the dust bowl now the rust bowl. Silence equals consent.

Martha Stewart, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson's exposed breast, gay marriages, car chases, Donald Trump, and whatever goofy reality show he does, the Passion, hearings on steroids, Las Vegas marriages, molesting priests, ad nauseam election antics etc., but no news. Nothing that addresses the confusion, fears, despair and anguish of the nation. Instead, we get Sherwin Williams, color coded fear days, advice of duct tape and plastic sheeting, for that next attack, followed by the calm advice to keep shopping. Pensions robbed, jobs gone, bankruptcies, hundreds of thousands of homeless, people dying for lack of medical care, salaries plummeting, taxes, cost of living out of sight, and nothing. Nothing but insane babbling, and public relations canned propaganda, disguised as real news.
Industry protected with Right to Work (for less) legislation, Minimum Wage at $5.15 (voted fine in NH), pollution excused, tax subsidies for the wealthy resorts, pork for those special states, Medicare monies for the insurance and pharmaceuticals, and the people? The people be damned. With lucrative salaries, five medical plans to choose from, jobs for family members, astounding pension plans, yearly cost of living increases, lobbying jobs waiting should one retire; why politicians don't care and can't identify with the "terror" of a nation's race to the bottom in this planned global plantation, because they don't have to.
They won't be the armless Veteran in Massachusetts, the auto worker with no place to go, the miner suffering Black Lung, the scarred steel worker, the fireman laid off, the mother or father working two and three jobs, or the family living in their car "terror" stricken that welfare will take their children. No they don't know because there's no need to know. They have their nests feathered and what happens to the other (us) is none of their concern. When you belong to an elite club of political favoritism, you can vote your needs-wants-and desires into being. With 32.7 million new immigrants in the past decade alone brought in, there's plenty to do the scut work for the few jobs left without the threat of strikes. Industry is methodical and visionary in their seeing to a well run plantation. They work in increments of decades not week to week or paycheck to paycheck. Meanwhile keep the rabble at each other's throats, send them to prison or war, give them 500 TV channels, lots of movies, concerts, sports and you've got it made.

The men and women who built a nation, went to war after war, worked hard, obeyed the laws (weren't fleecing people), are now being kicked to the curb. A man loses his job, his farm, his land. The one becomes the hundreds, then thousands, and then millions. The one becomes the 'we'. Greed, arrogance, superiority, elitism the quality of owning, possesses the Haves into a forever "I" and cuts them off from the "we". Men were not made to be idle, living in cars, under bridges, nor listening to the cry of hungry children. Men hunger for joy and some semblance of security (not duct tape). The one becomes the millions in their ache to grow, to work, to create. Man yearns to leave a part of himself in creation. Soon men will know that dying for a concept, shredding the lives of others like himself, is not the way. He was meant to create not destroy. Groveling and shuffling, under the threats and intimidation of the few must stop. The one with his smoldering eyes, his haunted fearful wife and his terror-striken children will ignite the spark. The one is not alone anymore-despite the containment of the media in its reporting of the restlessness the awakening.

Faceless corporations, with their minions of political lackeys, doing their bidding; are not meant to farm the land, drench it with mineral destroying chemicals, nor to alter natures way with sterilized seeds nor genetics. The animals of the earth are not meant to be filled with growth hormones, caged, mutilated, 'terrorized', in sunless factory farms for profit. The waters of the world are not for the taking by water barons. They belong to the 'we'. The oceans are not the property of oil or gas interests sending fishing fleets home to rot at dockside. Millions, be they in China, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, Taiwan, Haiti, Mexico, South America, the Philippines, South Korea, etc., are not "collateral damage" not fodder for profiteers, to spend their brief lives in sweat shop labors for pennies a day, so that others might lead designer clad lives.

The youth of one land is not made to take up guns-bombs-and shredding, melting weapons, to kill for another lands resources or strategic location. The jungles of Africa are not the possession of giant oil companies; destroying-poisoning-and plundering rain forests and rural villages. The mountains of South America do not belong to timber companies, destroying the irreplaceable that remote people's have cared for. This is not a global plantation to be ruled by the few at the cost to the billions. Clowns with hatchets, mad with perverse-lustful-power, were never given the authority to be gatekeepers over the lives of billions; telling them what to think, where to travel, or what to read or speak, nor to be worked to death. How dare they! But......the one becomes the two or three and then the millions. Men were not meant to be caged-this is our land our planet not a factory farm.
"I got to figure, we all got to figure. There's some way to stop this. It's not like lightening or earthquakes. We've got a bad thing made by men, and by God that's something we can change." Grapes of Wrath
From Robert Cardwell
That one is a "keeper". Best thing I've ever read on! Hits every single note that people are talking about, shouting about, rather.
From Joe Vinduska
Hello Judith
I just read your article. I agree 100%. I thought I was the only one that felt like that. It's all gone to Hell in a hand basket and NO one seems to give a damn. The masses?? They just keep drinking, drugging and screwing. Not necessarily in that order. The children are getting REALLY screwed up. What happens when they get to run the show?? We ain't seen NOTHING yet!! It all scares me anymore. You take care of yourself. I enjoy your writings.
From John & Michelle Toland
What a impressive article! Coming from a area that reflects this and having family memebers still living in this rural enviroment you really hit it straight on. The thing that you failed to address are the church's in the Florida are buying up land and making these huge church businesses, are they doing it everywhere? Enjoyed your article and keep up the good work.



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